A Canadian charity recently conducted a daring social experiment: their staff gave a one-time $ 7,500 to people affected by homelessness. According to the researchers, the results were “surprising in a beautiful way”.
The study, entitled “New Leaf Project”, illustrates the power of a temporary universal basic income that lifts people out of poverty. A universal basic income is basically a gift of money from the government, often for the purpose of rehabilitating people in poverty.
50 homeless people received a universal basic income
Several legal systems around the world are already experimenting with this policy, recently for example the US state of New York and the Kenyan NGO GiveDirectly.
The Foundation for Social Change, a Vancouver-based charity, partnered with the University of British Columbia to find 50 people between the ages of 19 and 64 who were recently homeless. The recipients were first ensured that they had no significant substance abuse or psychological problems.
The researchers studied over a period of twelve months how the homeless were spending the money they had given them. Then they compared their results with those of a control group who did not receive the cash payment.
The money gives the homeless a choice and a chance
Those who received the money spent most of it on groceries, rent and transportation, and were found to be moving to homes faster over the year, according to the results. Spending on “tempting goods” such as drugs, cigarettes and alcohol fell by an average of 39 percent. And recipients were able to save an average of $ 1,000 in savings, according to Canadian news broadcaster CBC.
The cash payment saved the homeless shelter system $ 8,100 per person over the year – a total of $ 405,000. The sum also gave some attendees an opportunity to update their professional skills.
“When I found out that I should get the payment, I was living in an emergency shelter and was trying to find a way forward,” an anonymous participant in the New Leaf project was quoted as saying in a press release. “The money gave me the funds I needed to get out of the shelter and apply for the social programs and computer classes I needed. It was an important stepping stone and it gave me a choice. It gave me a chance. “
“Homelessness can happen to anyone”
Ultimately, the Foundation for Social Change hopes to expand the study with a $ 10 million fundraiser – to have the same positive impact on many more people across Canada.
“Homelessness can happen to anyone,” says the statement on the impact of the study. Many people are only a paycheck away from losing their home or their car – and forced to find other ways of living. “Of course, the economic effects of homelessness cost us all. But ultimately the human cost is the devastating one. “
This text has been translated from English. You can find the original here.